A total beginner’s guide to website hosting
If you have never used a web hosting service before, you are probably going to be overwhelmed and maybe a little bit confused when you are trying to pick your provider.
You will most likely run into a number of terms that you don’t know, which is totally fine. That is why we are here to break it down so that you know what you are looking for.
Most web hosts will just assume you know what you want and that you have a basic level of understanding of the terminology (which obviously isn’t always the case) and this can mean that you are always playing catch up.
What you need is a crash course on web hosting.
Here we are going to go through the basic terms you need to know to choose your web hosting provider.
What is web hosting?
What is web hosting and why do you need it?
This is where you pay someone so you can use their servers to publish your website. Usually, this is charged monthly and will give you access to their support systems and some other features.
Why do you need to use it? It allows you to not have to worry about the technical side of setting up your own server and maintaining it. Instead, you pay someone to provide you with the support and security that any website needs.
The crucial thing to remember is that not all web hosting providers are equal.
- Prices vary a lot between providers: For example, HB Hosting’s plans are cheap and affordable, but a lot of other hosts will charge more for the services that we offer.
- Some hosts offer better performance. Not all providers give you great connection speeds, for example, HB Hosting allows for some of the fastest available connectivity, whereas others may save on price by providing a lesser service.
- Better Security. These days, a lot of websites deal with sensitive user data, so you want to use a web host that takes security seriously and is quick to respond if things go wrong
There are a lot more factors that differentiate web hosts, but we’ll explore those as we have a look at some specific terms.
Basic hosting terms
- Domains: Using domain names enables visitors to identify websites and access them through their browsers. For example, our site’s domain name is www.hbhosting.com.au
- Servers: These are computers with the sole purpose of hosting websites and web applications, that are almost always online
- Top-Level Domains (TLDs): These are the suffixes at the end of every domain. The most popular TLD is .com, but there are hundreds of alternatives.
- Content Management Systems (CMSs): This term refers to software that’s built to help you create and manage specific types of websites and content. For example, WordPress is one of the most popular CMSs available.
- Subdomains: A subdomain enables you to set up multiple websites using the same domain name.
- Bandwidth: A lot of web hosts restrict how much data you can send and receive from your server, as a way to limit how many resources you can access. Most plans will tell you whether they can handle unlimited bandwidth or only up to a certain point
You will see all six of these terms all the time, so make sure you’re well-acquainted with them.
Hosting Plan Terms
It is also very important that you are able to pick the right plan for your needs. Here are the main type of plans:
- Hosting Plans: In most cases, you get different types of services depending on which plan you choose. Generally speaking, the more expensive your plan is, the better performance and features you can expect.
- Managed Hosting: A type of service rather than a plan per se. These platforms often take care of all the maintenance tasks that running a website involves, in exchange for a higher price
- Dedicated Servers: This is the most expensive type of plan, because you get a server all to yourself. It’s only recommended if your website requires the very best in performance
- Shared Hosting: This is the most basic type of hosting plan. It’s called shared because multiple websites use the same server as a way to save on costs.
- Cloud Hosting: These types of plans leverage cloud technology and VPSs for better performance and scalability
- Reseller Hosting: These types of plans enable you to resell a company’s hosting services in exchange for a cut of each you subscriber you sign up
- Virtual Private Servers (VPSs): This type of plan is similar to shared hosting, except that each user gets their own virtual server. In other words, you get better security and performance due to more resources
Keep in mind that prices will increase as you go up the ladder of hosting.
Advanced Website Hosting Terms
These topics here will be a bit more advanced, but are just as important to understand.
- File transfer protocol (FTP): This technology enables you to interact with your server’s files and transfer them from your local computer and vice-versa. You can do this using a client, such as FileZilla
- Website and domain migrations: This refers to the process of moving your website and domain to a new host or registrar respectively
- Website hosting control panel: Website hosting services use these tools to enable you to interact with your server using a graphical interface
- E-commerce: Also known as online commerce, this term covers the entire field of selling goods and services online
- Domain Name Server (DNSs): These are the servers that keep records about which website is assigned to which domain name
- Website Builders: These tools enable you to build fully-working websites without touching a single line of code
Now, you have all the information you need to sign up for your first hosting plan with confidence. If you want to dig deeper into any of the terms we’ve covered, check out our other blogs here.
Website Hosting Conclusion
Signing up for a website hosting plan is simple in theory, but it can be a bit confusing if it’s your first time around. You may run into a lot of terms you don’t know. However, nothing is stopping you from learning as you go, and you’ll find that creating a website is easier than you think.
Before we wrap up, let’s recap some of the most important topics we’ve discussed.
We’ve covered the difference between hosting a website and registering a domain, what types of plans you can sign up for, and what domains are. Furthermore, we also talked about migrating sites, CMSs, and website builders.
There’s plenty more you can read up on, but for now, you’ve got the basics covered.